I’m not easy to scare, but my podcatcher spent all of October cowering in fear! Tons of new releases and new seasons dropped in that fateful spooky month, so we’re going to cover some of the highlights here, as well as some ongoing fictions you must be listening to. (If your podcatcher is giving you nightmares, read yesterday’s newsletter issue from Wil Williams for helpful podcast subscription handling tips).
Point Mystic, The Secret of Point Mystic Pt. 2, “Between Worlds” (episode 2.1): Point Mystic’s return is long-desired, and slides in with all the tender, graceful storytelling from Reynaga in an immediate sequel to the first season’s finale. One character breaks her vow of silence, and that story she tells sends chills up and down my spine every time I listen, a powerful performance. This is audio that never gets old or tired; I could relisten to this all the time and find something new to focus on, discover, or think about.
All in My Head, Witness (episode 1.1): Nora’s sleep paralysis is terrifying--if you’ve never experienced sleep paralysis, it can sound a lot like the screaming nightmares exemplified in this first episode of a young woman who tries therapist after therapist seeking a solution. There aren’t jump scares so far, because you know intrinsically that Nora is building up to a scream, but some of the things describes are more than just hallucinations of shadows when you’re half-awake.
Limbo, JULY // DEATH FOR MY BIRTHDAY & AUG // THE SHARP HINT OF NEW TEARS (episode 1.1): From the creator of 2298 and Magic King Dom, comes a limited series audio fiction about death, the afterlife, and eternity. Olivieri made a commitment to focus women on the podcast, and every episode features another woman as a visitor to the main character’s limbo and someone who had an effect on the life. Julia Morizawa’s performance in the second episode brought on the trembling lower lip.
The Amelia Project, Percy Part 2 - World Audio Drama Day Special (episode 12): This was a very welcome surprise episode with some great marketing art. If you’ve been craving a multi-universe crossover that doesn’t make you feel like canon is breaking, the team at Imploding Fictions alongside Girl in Space, Love and Luck, Alba Salix, and Victoriocity have managed that with an ease of writing and humor that kept me along for the entire ride. Most importantly, it’s understandably funny even without prior knowledge of those shows.
The Cryptonaturalist, Sassafras Grove (episode 13): Anderson’s narrative writing continues to be impressively creative in world-building and highlighted by the casual weirdness and curious, surprising humor. Just like in his Twitter presence, some of these lines are beautifully poignant and resonant: “the places most inconvenient to get to are often the ones most worth visiting” spoke to me about more than just geographical places, and the reminder at the end to be kind to ourselves is so necessary in this time. (And that special guest transmission--gold.)
Tides, Star Stuff (mini episode 2): This mini-series isn’t Halloween-spooky, but it is amusing and fun backstory, with some zany and somewhat drunk shenanigans and a kind and focused look at the relationship between Dr. Eurus and Dr. Wang. I’ve wondered about the structure of their friendship for a while, and this historical episode puts a spin on it that I hadn’t expected.
The Bright Sessions, The Bright Sides - Patient #7-B-3 (episode 5.4): This episode came out in early October, but I only just got around to listening, and Eli Barraza's writing and acting in the Bright universe is just as heart-wrenching as it in The Far Meridian. This is such a good examination of grief, and power, and how to handle complicated thoughts and how they inform our picture of ourselves. Barraza's ability to meld her writing to fit in with whatever universe she's playing in must not be understated: it's amazing. The Bright Sides, so far, has been a roaring success for me.
Duggan Hill, The Drowning Isle, Prologue - The Last Ten Months (episode 2.1): Duggan Hill is a creepy, Canadian podcast and their season two prologue launched on Halloween. The prologue is a collection of recordings occurring all over Vancouver during Zoe’s return in season one. It’s got Duggan Hill’s trademark crystal-clear soundscaping, strange timelines, and at least one highlight terrifying sound effect that made me grimace.
The Phenomenon, Catch and Release (episode 2.1): The season two premiere for The Phenomenon is the lower-key thriller that I think is absolutely necessary to keep momentum going, a break in breath after the teeth-grating finale and getting listeners back on the rollercoaster after a hiatus. I am consistently delighted by the performances in this podcast as well, by the natural and excellent variety in voices and accents, by the strange distant soundscaping, and as ever, by the grotesque sounds of what happens when you encounter whatever is outside.
Limetown, London (episode 2.1): If you thought Limetown wasn’t going to be on this list… this season opener was a madcap ride through a look into the life of the reporter going after the story of Lia Haddock. Littler’s writing and direction excels in the fast-paced nature of this episode, though that might be a side effect of my level of tension throughout the whole thing. Anticipation is a heady thing, and Limetown has done a solid job of capitalizing on that and re-asking the questions before answering them.